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4 Burundi rights activists arrested while trying to travel

4 Burundi rights activists arrested while trying to travel
Heavily armed police officers patrol the streets of Bujumbura, 12 April 2016   -  
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4 human rights activists have been detained in Burundi while trying to travel to Uganda for a meeting with civil society organizations.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, witnesses at the Bujumbura airport and workers with security and the national human rights commission told The Associated Press that agents with the National Intelligence Service made the arrests Tuesday morning.

The reason behind the arrests was not immediately known. Such arrests have been common in recent years in Burundi, where watchdogs have accused the current and previous administrations of targeting critics and stifling dissent.

Anschaire Nikoyagize, the president of Ligue Iteka, the country’s oldest human rights organization, confirmed the arrests.

Those detained are Audace Havyarimana, legal representative of the Association for Peace and the Promotion of Human Rights; Sylvana Inamahoro, the group’s executive director; Sonia Ndikumasabo, president of the Association of Women Lawyers of Burundi; and Marie Emerusabe, the association’s general coordinator.

There was no immediate statement from Burundian authorities. General prosecutor Sylvestre Nyandwi and the spokeswoman for the office of the prosecutor, Agnès Bangiricenge, did not respond to requests for comment.

On a recent visit to Burundi, the European Union special representative for human rights, Eamon Gilmore, expressed concerns about “human rights challenges” there.

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